Marquette Wire

Nattie’s dog days

Follow MUPD's furry friend on an average day around campus.

Photo by Photo by Matthew Serafin

Photo by Photo by Matthew Serafin

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Walking down Wisconsin Avenue can be a little ruff day-to-day, and it’s safe to say most of us get excited, or maybe even homesick, when we see a dog roaming the streets of campus.

Luckily for us, there’s Nattie, Marquette University Police Department’s newest furry friend, whose main purpose as a community outreach dog is to be our friend. If Nattie could speak, I think she would say, “Why aren’t more students hanging out with me?” or “They should spend their study breaks petting me.”

Unlike other police dogs, Nattie’s job isn’t to be trained in law enforcement or drug detection, but to comfort students or crime victims and be a friendly animal on campus. I decided to see what a day in the life of Nattie was like, and if I learned anything from our walk around campus together, it’s that she loves attention.

When I walked into the MUPD office at 9 a.m., I heard Nattie whimpering by the door looking for Officer Carolina Seidl, her former owner who was around for the day. It had been a while since she last saw her, and it was obvious that there was excitement in the air.

Photo by Matthew Serafin
Officer Andrew Huber prepared Nattie for her morning stroll.

After their reunion, Officer Andrew Huber prepared Nattie for her morning stroll around campus.

We headed out and walked toward the Alumni Memorial Union. I asked Officer Huber where we were headed and he laughed. “Nattie creates the route,” he said. “She’s stubborn and leads the way, probably where she knows there is food.”

Outside the AMU, students were eager to say “good morning” and pet her on the way to class. Next, Nattie led her way into the Office of Event Management, where event coordinators Vicki Cicatello and Julie Kuligowski had a variety of treats in their desk. They took pictures of her, attempted to play catch and suggested that Nattie played dead so that she could skip out on the walk and stay and play instead.

Many offices around campus have started buying treats for Nattie, as they expect her arrival. Zilber Hall is one of them.

Nattie’s agenda of finding treats lead us into the Office of Admissions.  A few admissions officers rush out of their rooms to greet her, and the students have big smilies on their faces. Personally, I think Nattie should greet all prospective students. If she can’t convince prospective students to come to Marquette, I’m not sure what will. 

When we crossed Wisconsin Ave, Officer Huber explained how Nattie used to be terrified of the busses when crossing the street, but so was I. It’s all about adjustment.

Next stop: South campus, because it wouldn’t be a scenic walk without a trip to St. Joan of Arc Chapel.

After a quick stop where Nattie admired a squirrel, students started to trickle out of class.

Photo by Matthew Serafin
A student hugs Nattie outside the Joan of Arc Chapel.

In this instance, no one stopped to pet her and she was confused. She loves the attention and wants everyone to interact with her.

Outside Raynor, a student asked, “Can I pet her?” and the answer will almost always be “Yes!” Usually, when a student is done greeting Nattie, you’ll hear them tell the officer, “Thank you. This just made my morning.”

We passed St. Joan of Arc and Nattie showed us a trick she learned: Jumping onto the steps. After our walk, Nattie went back home to the MUPD office where she lives permanently and is cared for.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., she lives the life of a normal dog, giving MUPD company or takes a nap like the rest of us. Students are welcome to hang out with her until her second walk of the day or trip to the park.

Around 3 p.m., she goes out with one of the many members of MUPD who care for her such as Officer Huber, Officer Elyse Baisley, Sergeant Wellman or sometimes Chief Paul Mascari. She’s often spotted at the library giving students an opportunity to take a study break.

Photo by Matthew Serafin
Though Nattie is a police dog, she mostly serves as a support animal.

Officer Huber explained the biggest impact Nattie had was bridging the gap between campus safety and students. MUPD believes Nattie is something out of the ordinary at a college campus, and spending time with her allows students to focus on something that isn’t college or stress.

There are plenty of students who are regulars and make seeing Nattie a part of their day.

MUPD is no longer just the police, but the police with Nattie, which allows students to have a personal relationship with officers, a relationship that did not exist for many until this year.

When a victim of crime comes into the office, they have the opportunity to interact with Nattie. If she’s out of the office at the time, she will come back to offer support. Officer Huber has noticed how Nattie often runs into the room and throws herself into the person’s lap to make herself acknowledged.

In one instance, the victim went from crying to laughing and being enthralled with Nattie in only 20 seconds. The officer can then communicate easier and speak calmly. Nattie makes conversations at MUPD easier when she acts as a distraction.

Eventually, Nattie retires for the night, but if anyone were to need her comfort, she’ll be woken up. 

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